WEBB CITY, Mo. —
History is repeating itself: The Minerva Candy Co. is closing.
Owners Tom and Mary Hamsher, who spent some 15 months renovating the historic downtown structure before opening it in late 2012, announced recently that today would be the store’s last day. On Monday, the storefront and deli on Main Street and apartments above will be put up for sale.
The couple brought the store back to life in much the same way it had been when the Mallos family owned it for decades. Duke Mallos, the last of the family, closed it about six years ago.
The Hamshers carefully preserved the pressed tin ceiling, tile floor and original cases, and renovated the original candy making equipment.
At Christmas, Mallos guided the Hamshers and their employees in making the store’s iconic giant candy canes, which at one time the company churned out some 25,000 of to ship across the nation.
The Hamshers also added a modern touch: a sandwich shop, Mary’s homemade ice cream, a coffee bar, and live music on weekends.
Last year, Tom, who himself had fond childhood memories of visiting the store, was told by customer after customer that they were thrilled with the reopening — they, too, had fond memories.
But it wasn’t enough to sustain the store; Tom said it’s challenging for a mom-and-pop owned small business to make it in today’s economy unless traffic is consistent through the week.
“It was a hard decision,” Tom said. “But we have to let it go.”
Friday, many customers came in to bid him tearful farewells and share hugs.
“This is so sad,” said Marilyn Clark, Webb City, who came in for lunch with her daughter and grandchildren. “I remember this as a kid, and I hate that this is my last time here.”
Phyllis Hombs and her niece, Shelly Terry, brought Hombs’ grandchildren for a last lunch.
“My grandpa used to bring me in as a kid,” said Terry, of Carterville. “We bought candy canes at Christmas and hearts on Valentine’s Day. I sort of grew up here.”
Hombs said she appreciated its uniqueness, and hopes that when the store goes up for sale on Monday that someone else steps up to do something with it.
“It’s such a neat building, such a tradition,” she said. “I hate that we have to see it close up.”
The Minerva will be open on today from 7 a.m. for breakfast and through the lunch hour and dinner hour, until 10 p.m. The band “No Apparent Reason” will play for the supper crowd.